The city's Safe Parking Program currently operates near the Queen Mary but will relocate soon. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

Long Beach officials said Friday that some unhoused people living in vehicles would be able to park overnight in an underutilized parking lot near the Queen Mary beginning Monday.

The lot, located on Queensway Drive in the Shoreline area, will be closed during the day, but it will allow up to 50 cars every night from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. through May 21.

The announcement marks the expansion of the city’s Safe Parking Program, which currently offers 15 overnight parking spaces at the Multi-Service Center on the Westside.

“In Long Beach, we are connecting folks who are sheltering in their car with another location for overnight parking, away from residential neighborhoods,” Mayor Rex Richardson tweeted Friday.

By adding 50 additional spaces, city officials say they will be able to accommodate 14% of the people sheltered in vehicles in the city. During last year’s point-in-time count, volunteers identified 488 people who were sheltered in their cars.

Amid an ongoing homelessness crisis, the city announced that it will use an underutilized parking lot near the Queen Mary to accommodate up to 50 overnight vehicles per night. Courtesy of the city of Long Beach.

The program has most commonly seen single occupants, couples and up to groups of three, Jennifer De Prez, a spokesperson for the city, told the Long Beach Post.

“While there is no per vehicle occupancy limit, participants should abide by all traffic laws and plan accordingly for the size of their vehicle,” she added.

Officials said that outreach workers with the city’s homeless bureau have said that safety is a common concern among those who use their vehicles for shelter. At the new site, two security guards will be on duty each night, as well as personnel from the homeless bureau, who can help connect people with “housing-focused” case management, the city said.

The lot will also offer a pet relief area, restrooms and hand-washing stations, according to officials.

Before showing up to either lot, those interested must first receive a referral from the Multi-Service Center, city officials said.

“People in our community whose only source of shelter is their vehicle have a critical need for a safe space to park overnight,” Richardson wrote in a statement.

Officials are assuring that overnight parking will not affect repairs to the Queen Mary, which is expected to reopen for tours in April. The city said that nearby businesses were also notified of the upcoming operation and of business resources available to them.

While the city declared a state of emergency over the homelessness crisis in January, the Safe Parking Program began in early 2020, De Prez said.

Long Beach City College also offers overnight parking on campus, but it is only available to students.

The news comes just weeks after the city scrapped plans to create a winter shelter within a community gym in the Westside’s Silverado Park after facing community outrage. The city said Friday that it would continue its winter shelter at Community Hospital, which offers 81 beds, through April 30.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information from the city.

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